Gateway Theory

Research, statistics, and other data regarding onset of drug use, age of first use, and progression of use. This section unpacks and debunks the hypothesis known as the "gateway theory".

Evaluating Gateway Theory Using Cross-National Data

"The present paper examined the extent and ordering of licit and illicit drug use across 17 disparate countries worldwide. This comparison, using surveys conducted with representative samples of the general population in these countries, and assessment involving comparable instruments, allowed for the first assessment of the extent to which initiation of drug use follows a consistent pattern across countries.

What is the "Gateway Effect"?

"The gateway effect, if it exists, has at least two potential and quite different sources (MacCoun, 1998). One interpretation is that it is an effect of the drug use itself (e.g., trying marijuana increases the taste for other drugs or leads users to believe that other substances are more pleasurable or less risky than previously supposed). A second interpretation stresses peer groups and social interactions.

Relationship Between Teen Marijuana Use and Use of Other Drugs

"Our results indicate a moderate relation between early teen marijuana use and young adult abuse of other illicit substances; however, this association fades from statistical significance with adjustments for stress and life-course variables. Likewise, our findings show that any causal influence of teen marijuana use on other illicit substance use is contingent upon employment status and is short-term, subsiding entirely by the age of 21. In light of these findings, we urge U.S.

Medical Cannabis Patients and Other Drug Use

"Analysis of the demographic and social characteristics of a large sample of applicants seeking approval to use marijuana medically in California supports an interpretation of long term non problematic use by many who had first tried it as adolescents, and then either continued to use it or later resumed its use as adults. In general, they have used it at modest levels and in consistent patterns which anecdotally-often assisted their educational achievement, employment performance, and establishment of a more stable life-style.